Cows at bunk
July 11, 2016

Wisconsin’s Milk Per Cow Growing Faster Than California’s

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Analysis by Bruce Jones, a University of Wisconsin economist, shows Wisconsin’s milk per cow is growing faster than California’s. If present trends continue for a few more years, Wisconsin’s milk production per cow might catch and even surpass California numbers.

In 2015, California averaged 23,002 lb. of milk per cow; Wisconsin, 22,697. The gap has been much wider, but has been slowly narrowing since the 1990s. In 1970, California was already producing nearly 12,000 lb./cow/year while Wisconsin was not yet producing 10,000 lb.

“The growth in milk per cow in California fell from around 1.7% per year for the 1970 to 1989 period to about 1.1% for the period from 1990 to 2015,” says Jones. “In contrast, growth in milk production per cow was essentially unchanged in Wisconsin. For both periods considered, growth in milk per cow was around 1.9% per year.


“This stability in Wisconsin’s growth in milk per cow is an indication that there has been no slippage in the productivity of Wisconsin dairy operations as they have moved to higher levels of milk production,” says Jones.

Better management, better housing, better feed and better technology like rBST undoubtedly fueled these productivity gains in both states. With the loss of rBST in a good share of Wisconsin herds next year, it remains to be seen whether they can stay on pace.